3 Reasons Why Properly Fueling Your Body Matters

Photo Courtesy: Twitter

By Lillian Nelson, Swimming World College Intern

All across the country, college and club swim teams have begun their training seasons for the year after taking the tiny, yet well-deserved break that swimmers get once a year. At this point, you’ve more or less been out of the water for a few weeks. This is something your body needs in order to rest and recover from the summer season and recharge for the upcoming year.

Getting back into the full swing of training can be tough on the body, but properly fueling your body can make the transition both a little easier and a lot more productive. Having experienced plenty of trial and error with this subject over the years, the following are a few key points that can be helpful to refer back to when you’re feeling beaten down by training.

1. Eat so you can workout, don’t workout so you can eat.


Photo Courtesy: Nathan Larkin

This time of the year tends to consist of a lot of conditioning-type training that gets us back into shape. After taking a break from this amount of physical activity, a huge mistake that is often made by athletes is that they are not primarily conscious of the frequency of their meals, nor the quality of those meals. Not paying attention to this can lead to forgetting meals/snacks, and eating poorly.

Burning as many calories as swimmers do (and are notorious for doing) is a lot for the body to handle. These calories need to be replaced, and replaced in the right way. Including both snacks and meals, swimmers should be eating about six times a day. Especially as we get older and eat in a college dining hall every day, pizza and french fries, though tempting, just won’t cut it anymore.

Right before and after training sessions, you should be eating something. Roughly 30 minutes before, and 30 minutes after, something of substance should be consumed. Your body needs fuel to burn during practice, and fuel to help replenish after practice. Even if it’s just a granola bar or peanut putter crackers, try to get something in.

It can be hard to say no to the junk food and the desserts, but those types of foods don’t do much to help your body recover and get ready for the next practice. If you have a hard time deciding what to eat at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, always go back to the basics: proteins, carbohydrates, and fruits and veggies. All three of these groups should be present at each of your three main meals.

It is important to create good eating habits earlier on in the season, rather than getting to a few weeks out from your taper meet and suddenly having to make huge nutritional adjustments.

2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

water bottle

Photo Courtesy: Andrew Pennebaker

It is as simple as it sounds, yet it is often the easiest thing to forget throughout the day. Just as you take your phone or your wallet with you everywhere you go, make your water bottle one of those items you never leave the house without.

Proper hydration is absolutely key to preventing cramping, over exhaustion, and headaches either during practice or after. Bringing something with you to practice to hydrate your body is just as important as remembering to put your suit on before you get into the water.

3. Healthy eating, healthy body.


Photo Courtesy: Masahiro Ihara

Because school and swimming tend to start up and intensify bilaterally, getting run-down can happen very quickly and hit you out of nowhere. You’re training more, waking up earlier for practice, and staying up later studying.

If nutrition goes out the window, your body will very quickly shut down, becoming more prone to sickness and injury. You’re essentially letting yourself take one step forward and two steps back each time you encounter sickness or injury, and there is nothing more frustrating to a swimmer, considering all the hours we put in. So why deal with that, when something as simple as eating and drinking correctly can significantly lower those chances?

Focusing on eating healthy and properly keeps you full of energy and allows you to perform to the best of your abilities at every practice, every lift, and every meet. If you are able to do that, it will even reduce stress. The less stressed you are, the more at ease you are to allow yourself to do what you do best.

Fuel the machine.

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Dyan Braden
8 years ago

Erin Braden Goss

Sammie Lucie-Smith
8 years ago

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Jessica Aldrich
8 years ago

Lillian Aldrich send to Facebook page plz

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8 years ago

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